Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Extra Insulation the Natural Way

I read in today in the Chicago Tribune that the area has had snow cover since January 5 - nearly a month now! It reminded me of something I did a few weeks ago when the temperatures dropped below freezing and stayed that way for several days.

We had recently rearranged our basement, and as a result, I finally have a room of my own to call an office. But it has been a cold office. Very cold. So I wondered how I could help retain some of the heat in there. I recalled stories of eskimos using the natural insulation of snow in their igloos, and wondered how that would work to help keep in the heat for above-ground concrete foundation walls.
A bit of googling turned up confirmations that yes, you can indeed pack snow up against a foundation wall. However, there is a very important consideration: When temps get above freezing, you must shovel it away or deal with potential water in the basement!

Fair enough. I figured it was worth a shot, so before the deep freeze in January, I packed in snow from a recent storm up against the concrete foundation. I think it has helped somewhat. Especially from the howling winds and air infiltration that can come rushing in from the north and west. In comparing the basement's comfort during the recent deep freeze to the artic blast right we had right before Christmas (on the solstice in fact), I think our basement was equally as comfortable. In other words, it was not any colder with much colder outside temps.

Three weeks later, I'm happy to report that the snow is still packed in up against the wall. Although with a warm-up coming soon, it looks like I'll have to have the snow shovel at the ready.


Gina said...

You're so right!

And the snow serves another purpose: where it melts too quickly you know your warm air is leaking too much.


jay said...

Funny, I have noticed the snow melting in some places faster than others.. particularly where the stairs are in our basement. I guess it's safe to say there is an insulation problem there!

Anonymous said...

Hi, you can pack snow much much higher than that if you consider the wood siding to be sacrificial, or if you stack bundles of straw or reed to act as a buffer between the wood siding and the snow. Add a couple of feet or more of snow around the house and be amazed at the difference it makes. I did this all the time as a child. Never had a warmer home, and this was pretty close to the arctic circle.